In the most improbable of years, the Virginia Cavaliers are college baseball's national champion. In a season of ups and downs that saw the Hoos go from preseason number one in some polls to being on the outside looking in of the ACC Tournament as late as May, the Hoos overcame more adversity than any team ever should to come away victorious in Omaha.
Brandon Waddell will go down in UVA lore as one of its most clutch pitchers ever. On the biggest stage, in its most important game of the year, Waddell went seven strong innings giving up just two earned runs on four hits. But it was retiring the last eleven Commodores he faced that will make him a UVA legend. From there, he gave the ball to Nathan Kirby who exorcised some CWS Vanderbilt demons, throwing two innings of shut out ball with five of his six outs coming by the way of strikeout.
The night didn't get off to the best of starts as, after squandering a two on, nobody out opportunity in the top of the first, Virginia fell behind 2-0 as Vanderbilt capitalized on a walk and two doubles to take a 2-0 first-inning lead. The Hoos would right the ship, however, as Waddell settled down. And in the top of the fourth after a Kenny Towns walk, first year Pavin Smith hammered a Walker Buehler pitch out of the park to right, tying the game at two.
Following the Smith homer, it was the Virginia defense that took center stage. After Penn Murfee doubled to left center and advanced to third on a fly out in foul territory to right, Kenny Towns came up with a #SCtopten #webgem that potentially saved the game when he dove to snag a Tyler Campbell shot down the 3rd base line and threw a dagger to Smith (who made a bit of a web gem himself crossing over the first base bag to secure the out) at first to get out the inning and preserve the tie.
In the top of the fifth, Smith struck again, as he delivered a two out single to left, scoring Adam Haseley and putting the Hoos up 3-2. Virginia would add an insurance run in the seventh when Haseley led off with a single, and after being sacrificed to second by Daniel Pinero, scored on an RBI single up the middle by Towns.
In a time of redemption, Nathan Kirby got the call to come in and finish the final two innings. And...he was filthy; commanding his slider and striking out five of the six Commodores he faced on his way to earning the save and solidifying the National Championship on behalf of the Hoos.
On the year, the Hoos were 44-24 and...HOO CARES THEY WON THE NATIONAL TITLE!!!! WAHOOWA